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Taking A Leap...Out of Hibernation

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do." ~Steve Jobs

A few of my seedlings. Young leaves, stretched upwards, loving the sunshine! Oh, and shouldn't every greenhouse have a chandelier?

I need the time I spend in my garden. It hardly seems like work until late fall when everything turns brown. Then comes the dreadful frenzy of putting my gardens to sleep. A chore I have to complete before the days grow short and darkness blankets my outdoor beds. Once complete, then and only then, can I allow myself time to relax. In fact, I find early winter a bit numbing and confusing. Somehow, I have found that as my gardens sleep, I too, require more sleep.

Sometime though, between January and March, something changes. I feel more like creeping out of my comfort zone. Every four years, leap year, we gain an extra day in February. But every year, around this time, I gain something else. It seems that with the extra daylight and the arrival of my seeds, comes food and medicine for my soul. This is my gentle tug out of my hibernation. Just like me, after the long winter, the seedlings are sleepy and need to be gently coaxed from their cozy bed to reach for the light. As I watch them emerge from the dark, rich soil, they open their arms wide to take in the rays of the light and warm their soul. This is where I find myself on the sunny days of late winter, taking advantage of gaining a little extra daylight to do something wonderful. I am energized, back out in the sun, my arms open wide, taking in the rays, warming my soul.

My kids are used to my passion and my late winter musings. They are just as comfortable seeing me with trays of dirt and seedlings before me as they are seeing me prep for dinner. No questions asked as to why I am baking dirt (for sterilization) and not brownies. In their minds, this is the sensible and expected role of a mother. The first step to spring. Funny that the one thing they have missed while away at college isn't the smell of homemade cookies, but the earthy smell of spring, so prominent in our home this time of year.

So I am back, winter is ending. I feel truly satisfied and love what I do. I think Steve Jobs would be proud!

Me with an armload of newly harvested romaine with a bit of red for color. Sometimes less can be more!

This is also the time of year, mid-March is when my first crop of spring greens is ready for a first harvest (only after being carefully tended since mid-December under lights in my plant room.) I use this harvest as an excuse to make my favorite dressing. (None other can harmonize with fresh greens quite as well.) The recipe was published several years ago in "The Cooks Garden" seed catalog and I have made it ever since!

If you dare, take a chance with flavor and delight your eaters. This traditionally inspired blend has a mysterious twist. The not so secret ingredient is delicious, yet barely recognizable, and one you better not even consider omitting. You will, though, savor every mouthwatering dab that touches each green leafy bite. To all who dare, the secret ingredient, anchovies, are essential. Even to those who profess they would never eat an anchovy. When it comes to food, cooking, your health: take a safe leap and find a way to include more greens! Even if they come from the grocery, and not your garden. This dressing works great on both.


credits to "A Kitchen Garden" by Renne Shepherd and Fran Raboff. Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients and Instructions

Croutons: Combine 2 crushed or minced garlic cloves with 1/2 cup good fruity olive oil. Let blend for 6 to 8 hours. Put 2 tablespoons of this garlic oil into a large skillet. Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups cubed French bread. Sauté until lightly browned, add salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.

Dressing: THIS is my favorite part of the whole recipe.

Finely chop one can of anchovies, then mash them up very well into a paste with their own oil. Combine with the remaining garlic/olive oil. Add 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard and a few generous grindings of fresh pepper (to taste). Add 4 drops Worcestershire sauce, 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar and the juice of one big fresh lemon.

Greens: Tear up 2 heads of fresh Romaine (or Bibb) leaves into serving size pieces, then pour the dressing over them. Top with the garlic croutons, sprinkle with1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. Enjoy immediately.

In good health,


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